Friday 16 December 2016


            He came from Tukum (Tukums), Courland (now, Latvia).  He lived in Riga, Kovno, and Vilna.  He was a home tutor in Russian and German.  For a time he made his living writing letters for women to their husbands, who in the late nineteenth century had made their way to South Africa and to the United States.  He wrote “poetry” which was included in his letter-writing manual and Yiddish textbooks for girls, Fibel, oder shrayb und leze bikhleyn, in akht tage lezen und shrayben tsu erlernen (Primer, or writing and reading booklet, in eight days learn to read and to write) (Vilna, 1892), 64 pp. (appearing in several editions).  In this collection, there are as well “lovely stories, sample pictures for diligent children, puzzles, short letters, and anecdotes.”  He later wrote novels and story booklets, in which he strove to imitate Shomer (N. M. Shaykevitsh) to whom he wished to be heir.  In his preface to his “most interesting novel,” Di blasse grefin (The pallid countess), “a true story” (Vilna: Rozenkrants un Shriftzetser, 1893), 96 pp., he noted: “Dearest reader,…our celebrated ‘Shomer’ is no longer young, and does our father in heaven know how much longer he will be able to serve us with his extraordinary stories?  Thus, you must get into the habit bit by bit of this [i.e., reading and writing] and accustom yourself with other young writers, and you can then hope that in a short time you will grow into young, little Shomers.”  From his two lean booklets, the same publisher brought out: Di blonde un shvartse (The fair one and the dark one) (Vilna, 1896), 31 pp.; Di shtoltse kurlanderin (The proud woman of Courland) (Vilna, 1896), 32 pp.; Der ungerikhter glik (The unjust happiness); Dos kind fun yam (The child from the sea) (Vilna, 1897), 32 pp.; Dos raykhe land oder di beshehrte por (The rich land or the destined match) (Vilna, 1893), 29 pp.; Di betrogene libe (The mistaken love) (Vilna, 1896), 30 pp.; Der mieser toes (The ugly error); Der mamzer als doktor (The bastard as doctor) (Vilna, 1896), 31 pp.; Dos kind un di koren (The child in the rye) (Vilna, 1894), 31 pp.; Di aristokratke (The female aristocrat) (Vilna, 1896), 30 pp.; Geld un libe (Money and love) (Vilna, 1896), 32 pp.; Der lebediger yosem oder der gefunenem foter (The living orphan or the discovered father); Der griner un der dzentelman (The greenhorn and the gentleman) (Vilna, 1896), 31 pp.; Der zohn fun a bezdetnik (The son of a childless man) (Vilna, 1913), 31 pp.; Khayke di shvebele (Khayke the match) (Vilna, 1895/1896), 32 pp.; Der glompishker president (The yokel president) (Vilna, 1896), 30 pp.; Di shtifmuter (The stepmother); Der shmid als doktor (The blacksmith as doctor) (Vilna, 1896), 31 pp.; Rikhard tsvishn shpanishe merder (Richard among the Spanish murderers); Di eydele nekome (Genteel revenge); and A khasene in midber sahari (A wedding in the Sahara Desert); among others.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; M. Bostomski, in Di naye shul (Warsaw) (January-February 1923); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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